It is not often a closer in Philadelphia blows a save and gets a standing ovation.
But Brad Lidge is an exception, a player whose perfection was
applauded by the sellout crowd, even in the face of his first blown save with the Phillies. The right-hander allowed four runs, including a three-run homer to Kevin Kouzmanoff, and the San Diego Padres beat the Phillies 8-5 on Saturday night.
Lidge (0-1) was a perfect 48-for-48, including the playoffs, in save chances last year in his first season with the Phillies. He hadn't blown a save opportunity since Sept. 23, 2007, when he was with Houston. His regular-season streak ended at 47.
"I tried not to think about what it would feel like when it ended," said Lidge, who has been shaky at times this season. "Now that it's over, I've proud of what I did, but this is a new season and I need to pitch better. I need to get myself back on track and start a new streak. I'm not pitching my best right now."
Lidge, who was presented with the Rolaids Relief Man of the Year
Award before the game, entered in the ninth to protect a one-run lead. But Jody Gerut led off with a double and scored from third to tie it at 5-5 on Brian Giles' grounder to first base, and first baseman Ryan Howard playing back.
Manager Charlie Manuel said that he played the infield back with one out and a runner on third because the heart of the Padres' order was coming up.
With two outs, Lidge walked Adrian Gonzalez and Chase Headley before Kouzmanoff hit one out to left field.
Manuel removed Lidge to a standing ovation from the packed house
at Citizens Bank Park.
"Normally, you're not happy in a situation like that, but it made me feel good," Lidge said of the ovation. "I'm still not happy with how we performed, but I appreciate our fans."
Heath Bell, a full-time closer for the first time in his career, retired the Phillies in the ninth inning for his league-leading seventh save, running the Padres' winning streak and the Phillies' losing streak to three.
"I feel bad for him," Bell said. "In a closer way I feel bad for him, but I'm happy we won."
The Padres have done a lot of winning lately, starting off 9-3 and are tied for first in the NL West with the Dodgers. Cla Meredith (3-0) got the last two outs in the eighth for the victory.
"Every team wants to start off well and this is good for our club, there are a lot of new faces and guys are getting to know each other and it's easier to get to know guys when your winning, it sets the tone."
Chase Utley, Howard and Raul Ibanez homered for the Phillies. Utley's solo shot off Duaner Sanchez leading off the eighth inning tied the game at 4.
Ibanez hit his team-leading fourth home run, a one-out shot in the second, but Gonzalez gave the Padres a 2-1 lead with a third-inning shot to center field.
Hours before the game, an estimated 9,000 fans - many whom arrived well before sunrise, walked through Citizens Bank Park and said goodbye to Hall of Fame broadcaster Harry Kalas.
The Phillies also held an afternoon memorial service for Kalas, who died Monday at age 73, while preparing in Washington for a Phillies-Nationals game.
Many mourners wept as they passed Kalas' casket, located behind home plate, and celebrated Kalas' life during a 90-minute on-field tribute. The ceremony ended with a family friend singing the first verse to "High Hopes!" and a video of Kalas singing the second verse.
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